Chris Christie effectively appoints himself to the Senate

The New Jersey governor didn't choose to fill his state's open Senate seat -- but now he'll still control its votes

Topics: Chris Christie, Jeffrey Chiesa, New Jersey, U.S. Senate,

Chris Christie effectively appoints himself to the SenateNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

In appointing state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa to fill the seat vacated by deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has come as close to appointing himself — without actually doing so — as possible. Chiesa is a longtime loyalist and friend of the governor — with little public profile or known ideological agenda —  following Christie from private practice, to the U.S. attorney’s office, to the governor’s mansion, making one wonder if his Senate office will effectively function as an extension of the governor’s office in Washington.

The two first met in the late 1980s at the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci (Bill Palatucci being a big GOP fundraiser and Christie booster), where Christie had started a few years earlier. When Christie was nominated to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey in 2001, a newspaper cartoon showed him sitting across a table from President Bush, who was holding a copy of the future-governor’s résumé that showed no experience as a criminal prosecutor. Chiesa framed the drawing and gave it to his friend, saying, “You and I both know how wrong this is. We’ll laugh about this cartoon.”

Once confirmed, Christie immediatly hired Chiesa at the U.S. attorney’s office, where the deputy made a name for himself prosecuting public officials. Eventually, he became the executive assistant to the U.S. attorney, making him one of Christie’s closest aides.

When Christie won his 2009 gubernatorial campaign, he made Chiesa the executive director of his transition team. “These are people who know me best,” Christie said when he announced the team. They’re “people who know me well and are able to tell me the truth and aren’t worried about the blowback.”

Once in office, the governor made Chiesa his top legal adviser as chief counsel. When Christie decided to end the practice of letting state officials score free seats at public concert venues, it was Chiesa whom he dispatched to do the delicate deed. In letters to judges and lawmakers and state employees, Chiesa warned that accepting the perk violated the state’s ethics code and told them to knock it off.

You Might Also Like

Unlike many other states, the governor appoints the attorney general in New Jersey, and in late 2011, Christie appointed his longtime friend Chiesa.

Chiesa owes his career for at least the past decade to Chris Christie, and especially his biggest promotion yet, to the U.S. Senate, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll remain loyal to his friend once in Washington. As Christie gears up for an expected 2016 presidential bid, Chiesa could be a huge asset as the governor’s man in Washington, voting, moving legislation and issuing public statements favorable to his old boss. Appointing himself would be unseemly, so Christie did the next best thing.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    jkrebs04, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 1

    Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada

    akvarog, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 2

    Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

    iMAGICations, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 3

    Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, U.S.

    jhgraphicsusa, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 4

    Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

    Robert R., DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 5

    Colosseum, Rome, Italy

    Anythingoes, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 6

    Taj Mahal, Agra, India

    Sergio Coelho, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 7

    Siena Cathedral, Siena, Italy

    Anythingoes, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 8

    Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    iMAGICations,DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 9

    Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

    iMAGICations, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 10

    Lost City of Petra, Jordan

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>